A two-loss team has not won the Ivy League crown since 1982, but that could very well change this year given the way things have played out through eight weeks.
A wild week in the Ancient Eight leaves the conference standings up in the air and the title up for grabs heading into the final two weeks of play. Every team but one can still capture a share of the league title, which promises an exciting final two games for Cornell football and its league foes.
After a slow start to league play, Harvard finds itself back in striking distance of first place, while Dartmouth and Columbia, who both began the year hot, have recently dropped tough games and lost their holds on the league lead. All three, in addition to Cornell, sit at 3-2 on the season and a game back of first place Yale.
Princeton, and its high-flying offense, has lost two straight nail-biters in the final minute to Cornell and Penn, leaving the preseason favorite lagging behind at 2-3. The defending champion Quakers opened Ivy play 0-3 but have fought to win two straight. Brown remains the only winless team in league play with a 0-4 Ivy record.
But Yale, alone in first place at 4-1, does not have an easy path to its first league title since 2006. The Bulldogs have two tough games against Princeton and Harvard to end the season.
Cornell, meanwhile, now finds itself bounced off the top rung after a 10-0 loss to Dartmouth in Hanover this weekend. With the loss, the Red no longer controls its own destiny in the hunt for the crown.
To capture an Ivy League title, Cornell will most likely need to be perfect to close out the season, as well as get some help from its opponents in taking down the Bulldogs. Cornell plays Columbia in a key home game next week before traveling to Philadelphia for its season finale against Penn.
All that in mind, here’s what went down this past weekend in the Ivy League.
Yale 34, Brown 7
The first-place Bulldogs trounced the winless Bears Friday night under the lights at the Yale Bowl. Freshman running back Zane Dudek ran for 165 yards and two scores, increasing his league-leading rushing touchdown total to 11, while wide receiver J.P. Shohfi added 107 yards and two touchdowns on just three receptions. The Bulldogs scored 20 first-quarter points and coasted to victory, holding the Bears scoreless until the final two minutes. Yale heads to Princeton next weekend, while Brown will host Dartmouth, still looking for its first win.
Harvard 21, Columbia 14
The Crimson staved off a late Columbia rally to improve to 3-2 in conference play. The Lions had the ball inside the Harvard 10-yard line with under a minute remaining, but the Crimson defense locked down and preserved a seven-point victory behind quarterback Joseph Viviano III’s two touchdown passes and touchdown run. Viviano, who split time with freshman Jake Smith to start the season, was given back the reigns to the offense after Smith chucked four interceptions before the 10-minute mark of the first quarter.
Columbia took an early 7-0 lead, but Harvard scored 21 unanswered to take a lead it would not relinquish. Harvard hosts Penn next week, and the Lions will take on Cornell at Schoellkopf.
Penn 38, Princeton 35
In a back-and-forth affair, Penn quarterback Will Fischer-Colbrie led an 80-yard scoring drive, culminating in a touchdown pass to Justin Watson with 1:12 remaining to give the Quakers a three-point lead. Princeton then marched down the field, but Tavish Rice missed a 31-yard field goal — a week after missing a potential game-winner against Cornell — allowing Penn to survive the Tigers.
The Quakers took a 24-7 lead early in the second half, but the powerful Princeton offense responded with four touchdowns to take a late lead. After the Red beat the Tigers 29-28 last week, Princeton, the victim of two consecutive last-minute winning drives, falls to 2-3. Penn plays Harvard next week, and Princeton hosts first-place Yale.